Boots up in Atkins VA
After a couple hours of sleep, I wake and feel the stillness of this mountain camp. I’ve gotten use to the high winds, the rain, the hail, sleet and freezing temperature. The still air is less inductive for me to sleep, deciding to open the rainfly to try and get more air movement into my tent. It worked quite well. Then the stillness is interrupted by the sound of distant thunder and a minimal patter of rain drops. I hope for no rain, so my packing is easier, but my short hike today, followed by a zero day on Tuesday in Atkins will be nice break from the trail and refreshing to be clean again for 5–6 days.
I’m awake with first light, about 6am, knowing I’ve a wet tent to take down and pack, gray looking skies, but no rain at the time. Do I get up and begin an early departure, so that I’ve a good chance to not have to pack up in the rain or do I wait and chill, so those in the shelter aren’t waken by my departure? I don’t need to leave early, since I’ll only have to hike for about 4 1/2 hours to Partnership Shelter. Due to its proximity to Hwy VA 610, pizza can be ordered and delivered there. Since AT&T hasn’t had service for about a month, I’ll have to use the Mt Rogers Visitor Center phone, since they’re close by. I’m not a regular fan of pizza, but I love the novelty of this experience, so I plan to order. Too late! After packing all up in my tent, it begins to rain and thunder is happening. So, now I wait in my less comfortable home, with all of the ‘furniture’ put away, lying on a cold hard floor, waiting for a chance reprieve from the rain. I’m glad I’m not in a hurry to go anywhere. In fact, with 1668 miles yet to hike, why would I be?!
Destinations on the AT are based on time, since I’ve come to know my pace. Whether it be 8 miles or 20 miles, I can predict within 30 minutes when I’ll arrive. I thought initially I would hike at 2–2.5 miles per hour, I’ve found it all depends on terrain. I’ve hiked 3 miles per hour in easy terrain over 15 miles recently.
It’s a good thing I carried 6 meals from Damascus, gave one to The Kid, who was worried if he had enough food and that I stayed on trail, instead of camping another night before Atkins. It’s a hiking day longer to go to Atkins instead of Marion. Also, the AT is king/queen of false summits. I say this, because everyday, while trying to gauge my pace and energy for an upcoming summit, I see “the summit” of the mountain that I’m climbing, only to discover that it was not the summit. I just continue around a bend and climb up, up and up.
Due to my hiking in a race with the thunder today, followed by my observing a small camping area near a shelter, then not wanting to put up my wet tent, I hiked 21 miles today to Atkins VA and the Relax Inn. I knew many at that shelter that I passed and waved to few, telling them that I’m hiking another 5 miles into Atkins. Lemonhead, Pops and The Kid were amongst those staying at the shelter. When it’s raining, I prefer to tent near shelter so that I can cook and eat out of the rain. Despite my fast paced and very high mountainous hiking for many hours, I think my knee is recovering well. My hiked miles over past 4 days: 18, 16, 13.5, & 21, equaling 68.5 miles or an avg of apx 17 miles per day. I’m exhausted and foot tired, so I’m rewarding myself with a zero hike day tomorrow.